Eating disorders and asking for help
by Rebecca, Red Balloon of the Air student
I first developed an eating disorder when I was 17 when I’d just started going to a new college to get my GCSEs. I wasn’t eating enough and I found I was in bed most of the time because I felt so ill. When I tried to go out in the evenings to do things or see people I found I hadn’t eaten enough and I was too tired to stay, I’d have to come straight back in because I’d just be too weak. I was tired far too much, I just felt really weak and upset most of the time.
“When I realised I had a problem I found it difficult to ask for help.”
When I realised I had a problem I found it difficult to ask for help. I was a bit shy at college and talking to someone about it seemed like a big step. But after a while I managed to speak to family and friends and explained what was happening to me. Speaking to my mum helped a lot – I told her what had been going on and how tired I felt and she agreed that I’d lost weight and suggested we speak to someone for help.
We went to the doctors and I found them really supportive. The first appointment was a little scary as I had to get weighed so they would know if I was gaining or losing weight, but then they took me to a little room to talk about things some more and find ideas to help. Once I started treatment it was alright because the appointments I went to were scheduled around the time I had at college, so it was quite easy with help from mum to get there and back. The help I have been getting from doctors and nurses supporting me in my recovery has been great. Everyone has been helpful. They understood. They were patient and didn’t force me to do anything.
“Everyone has been helpful. They understood.”
I’m trying to put weight on now and the support I’m getting is helping a lot. My dietitian can tell that I’m putting weight on at a really healthy pace and I feel like my recovery is going well. I’m 18 now and I’ve got three months left of my treatment. I’m gaining weight, my energy is better and I’m feeling good about it. I’m able to start doing the things I enjoy again without getting tired, and I feel more confident again – more like myself.
“My advice to other young people struggling with an eating disorder is to be brave and to ask for help…”
My advice to other young people struggling with an eating disorder is to be brave and to ask for help, it makes you feel so much more confident if you feel right in yourself. You can do things in a way that feels best for you: you can go to an appointment with your parents or with your friends, or you can go by yourself. So you can have support with your family and friends if that makes it easier for you. It’s not scary, the doctors just try and help you with what to do to help you feel like yourself again.
Advice lines and further support
If you need support or advice on eating disorders, for yourself or others, there are a number of advice lines you can call and apps and websites you can visit for help. Remember, you do not have to face things alone.
- Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity, existing to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.
- They are a champion, guide and friend to anyone affected, giving individuals experiencing an eating disorder and their loved ones a place where they feel listened to, supported and empowered.
- Call for free 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri 9:30 – 16:00).
- Available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Children under 19 can confidentially call, email, or chat online about any problem big or small
- Freephone 24h helpline: 0800 1111
- Sign up for a childline account on the website to message a counsellor anytime